Of all the debates movies have incited, none are more contentious than the argument of whether Titanic‘s leading man could’ve avoided an icy death had his lover Rose scooched over a tad on the door she was using as a life raft.
In a scene that is surely etched into our brains, upper-class Rose DeWitt Bukater (played by Kate Winslet) and struggling artist Jack Dawson (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) wade through freezing waters, disgruntled families, class politics and Billy Zane to finally flee the sinking ship, eventually finding themselves stranded with countless others amid the arctic waters. As lifeboats disembark in search of safety, the young lovers take refuge keeping afloat on a large chunk of ornate debris—which most viewers have discerned to be part of a door.
Based on the true events of the historical sinking of the Titanic ship, in which more than 1,500 of the 2,240 passengers on board perished, the movie is held as one of the greatest. Only, the frosty ending has long caused a stir.
While Rose escapes the freezing water thanks to the door, the very blue and icicle-clad Jack is mostly submerged in the water, holding her hands for dear life. As Rose makes him promise to not let go, he eventually succumbs to the temperatures and, well, lets go. A search boat eventually rescues Rose after she secures a whistle.
The tragic death sparked a lot of tears and a lot of fury, too, with many viewers making the argument that both parties could have fit on the door and survived.
Recently, the movie’s director, James Cameron, who has come under fire time and time again since its 1997 release for the charismatic Jack’s bitter fate, revealed that he had enlisted the power of science to back his story.
On tour to promote his new film Avatar: The Way of Water, Cameron reminded everyone that Jack’s death was for the sake of drama, to complete the Romeo and Juliet parallels.
But now Cameron has told The Toronto Sun that his team had undertaken a scientific study to prove that Jack would not have survived, even if he had gotten himself up on the door.
“We have done a scientific study to put this whole thing to rest and drive a stake through its heart once and for all,” Cameron said. “We have since done a thorough forensic analysis with a hypothermia expert who reproduced the raft from the movie, and we’re going to do a little special on it that comes out in February.”
The director went to explain the testing.
“We took two stunt people who were the same body mass of Kate and Leo and we put sensors all over them and inside them and we put them in ice water and tested to see whether they could have survived through a variety of methods and the answer was; there was no way they both could have survived,” he concluded.
“Only one could survive.”
And while an episode of MythBusters from 2012 suggested otherwise, Kate Winslet has now expressed her two cents on the matter.
Winslet, who has previously argued that both possibly could have fit on the wooden door, has changed her tune with a final say on the debate, 25 years on.
“I don’t f–king know. That’s the answer. I don’t f–king know,” she lamented on the Happy Sad Confused podcast. “Look, all I can tell you is, I do have a decent understanding of water and how it behaves.”
Winslet, drawing on her experiences paddle boarding, scuba diving, and kitesurfing, admitted that she’s sceptical.
“If you put two adults on a stand-up paddle board, it becomes immediately, extremely unstable. That is for sure,” she said. “I have to be honest; I actually don’t believe that we would have survived if we had both gotten on that door. I think he would have fit, but it would have tipped and it would not have been a sustainable idea.”
“So, you heard it here for the first time,” she exclaimed. “Yes, he could have fit on that door. But it would not have stayed afloat. It wouldn’t.”
Truthfully, we agree that Jack wouldn’t have fit on the door in any way that made sense. Had the two split up and he had found his own saving debris? Well, maybe things could’ve worked out differently.
That said, it’s a fictionalised romance so our hearts will go on…